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Old 08-10-2017, 04:04 PM   #1
CarolynF
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Salted or Unsalted Butter for Baking?

Thoughts for best flavor with cookies or pie crust? I usually use the salted.
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Old 08-10-2017, 04:38 PM   #2
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I always use salted unless the recipe specifically calls for unsalted. If that's the case, I usually skip it because it is too much trouble.
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Old 08-10-2017, 04:55 PM   #3
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I always use salted unless the recipe specifically calls for unsalted. If that's the case, I usually skip it because it is too much trouble.
Me too. Most recipes that call for unsalted add salt in the recipe anyway - they just say that there isn't a standard for the salted butter, so by using unsalted and then adding a precise amount of salt, you get a better result. Personally I've never really noticed a difference. If the recipe calls for unsalted butter and also salt, I just use regular butter and omit the salt, or reduce it a bit.

I've thrown out too much unsalted butter because I bought it for a recipe that required it, then it sat in my freezer for ages, sad and unused!
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Old 08-10-2017, 05:21 PM   #4
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I've used both and I honestly cannot tell the difference in my baked goods. I use salted exclusively now because it tastes better as a spread.
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Old 08-10-2017, 06:40 PM   #5
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I almost always just use salted.
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Old 08-10-2017, 06:50 PM   #6
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I do, too..just wondering if unsalted had a more buttery flavor.
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Old 08-10-2017, 07:21 PM   #7
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Actually, I think the salt helps bring out the flavor.
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Old 08-10-2017, 07:29 PM   #8
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Actually, I think the salt helps bring out the flavor.
Me too. Unsalted butter tastes like it's missing something - which it is!
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Old 08-10-2017, 08:36 PM   #9
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For spreading, salted is a must. Our palates have become accustomed over the years as Americans to expect to have salt in our butter. In Europe, France and Belgium in particular, they tend to use unsalted. Preference for one or the other for direct consumption tends in large part to be cultural.

But salted butter by its very nature contains a higher water content than unsalted, so for baking purposes, you're actually getting a minuscule amount more product when you buy unsalted. To most people that's no biggie. But your product will have a slightly richer mouth feel when you use unsalted. It's the baker's secret arrow in the quiver, which I learned as an apprentice pastry chef a long time ago.

It's salted all the way for melting to put on popcorn, spreading on bread, or dipping seafood. I used unsalted when I made cakes, brioche, Danish, croissants - think those are about the only products. Notice the past tense. Since those are items I rarely make when keeping serious LC, I'm not as obsessive as I used to be about stocking both kinds anymore. Mostly, I buy salted now. Gotta be ready for making maître d' butter to plunk onto a filet, or dipping some Gulf shrimp at a moment's notice!

Other than those fussy pastries, however, when baking LC treats, it's whatever's in the fridge.

And if I'm really wanting to treat myself, I buy Kerrygold butter, and always salted, because that ambrosia will get spread on LC bread, hot from the oven, and its taste is the stuff dreams are made of.
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:24 PM   #10
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Kerrygold is amazing! Thanks, Baricat.
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Old 08-15-2017, 07:39 AM   #11
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I first tasted European-style (cultured, that is) unsalted butter in an upscale restaurant many years ago. I couldn't believe how wonderful, buttery-nutty it tasted.

I haven't gone back to salted butter ever since. The European, unsalted butter IS more expensive but I wouldn't make a pie crust, special cake or cookie without it.

Trader Joe's used to carry Plugras (red wrapper) but discontinued it a long while back. Then I found it at Smart and Final, though I had to order a large quantity.

If you've ever watched an episode of Iron Chef, you'll see the Plugras red wrapper on the prep stations.

I can't get this butter where I live now but I have been able to find other decent brands of European-style unsalted. For what it's worth, I'm not in love with Kerrygold, though I've tried.

One other thing I read a long time ago: Manufacturers have to use fresher cream to make unsalted. Salt covers up the off taste of stale cream.

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Old 08-15-2017, 12:12 PM   #12
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Ginny...Thanks so much for your information.
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Old 08-16-2017, 08:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RexsreineSC View Post
I first tasted European-style (cultured, that is) unsalted butter in an upscale restaurant many years ago. I couldn't believe how wonderful, buttery-nutty it tasted.

I haven't gone back to salted butter ever since. The European, unsalted butter IS more expensive but I wouldn't make a pie crust, special cake or cookie without it.

Trader Joe's used to carry Plugras (red wrapper) but discontinued it a long while back. Then I found it at Smart and Final, though I had to order a large quantity.

If you've ever watched an episode of Iron Chef, you'll see the Plugras red wrapper on the prep stations.

I can't get this butter where I live now but I have been able to find other decent brands of European-style unsalted. For what it's worth, I'm not in love with Kerrygold, though I've tried.

One other thing I read a long time ago: Manufacturers have to use fresher cream to make unsalted. Salt covers up the off taste of stale cream.

Ginny in SC
Ginny, that's the first I've ever heard of "stale cream" being used to make salted butter. Can you point me to the source of that info?

I love Plugras, too. But it's not easy to find. We love Kerrygold as a more easily accessible butter from grass fed cows.
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Old 08-17-2017, 06:42 AM   #14
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Ginny, I dug out my old culinary arts textbooks to seek answers.

The USDA grades butter as AA, A, or B. It must, by law, be clearly marked on the label in order to be sold in the US.

Grade AA
* Delicate, sweet cream flavor (both salted and unsalted) with a delicate, pleasing aroma
* Made from high quality, sweet, fresh cream
* Smooth, creamy texture with good spreadability
* May possess a slight feed flavor

Grade A
* Pleasing flavor
* Made from fresh cream
* Fairly smooth texture
* Rates close to top grade
* May possess the following flavors to a slight degree: acid, aged, bitter, coarse, flat, smothered or storage
* May possess feed flavor to a definite degree

Grade B:
* May have slightly acid flavor
* May possess any of the following flavors to a slight degree: Musty, malty, neutralizer, scorched, utensil, weed, whey
* May possess any of the following flavors to a definite degree: acid, aged, bitter, smothered, storage and old cream.
* May possess feed flavor to a pronounced degree.

So, for butter to be sold to consumers in this country, it must have a USDA grade clearly stamped on the container. This has been federal regulation for many decades.

It's pretty simple to make sure you're not getting inferior butter by looking for the grade AA designation. The only type that can use old cream (which is what I presume you meant by "stale cream") is grade B, which I have never seen before in a supermarket. And no degree of salting will cover that up.

Perhaps what you read was from a source outside the US. Here, salted butter is in no way inferior in quality to its unsalted counterpart. It is simply the same grade, with the addition of a small amount of finely pulverized salt.
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:15 AM   #15
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Baricat, I can't point to a source for my ages-old information. My bad.

I've never seen Grade B butter in a grocery store either. Doubt any store would carry it.

All I can tell you is that, to my taste buds, salted butter of any grade or provenance, has little to none of the rich, nutty flavor or aroma I get from Plugras or some of the other European-style cultured butters.

I'll go with my taste buds. Everyone should use whatever is pleasing to their tastes and pocketbook.

So many food items are very personal: what you like or don't, what you will spend or won't, what helps you stay on your dietary regime or doesn't, what agrees with your body or doesn't.

What we can do here is share our experiences. Some of them will help others, some won't.

C'est la vie!

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Old 08-17-2017, 08:46 AM   #16
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Bien sûr, Ginny! What you said about individual tastes goes without saying. It sounds like you misinterpreted what I wrote. I was making no qualitative judgments about your taste, nor that of anyone else. Of course, folks are going to use what tastes best to them, and what works for their budget, and that is as it should be. I love Kerrygold, you don't. I get it. Different strokes, and all that. I didn't ever say otherwise.

That wasn't the issue I was addressing.

What I gave was factual information about all butter sold in the US. The quality of the cream used to make butter to be sold in the US cannot, by law, be "stale." (I have never heard cream referred to by that particular term. I assume you mean rancid.) Rancid cream will make rancid butter. The closest that could be construed as such could be Grade B, which might use "old" butter. But as we have both observed, it isn't generally available. That's because generally, it is used for institutional and commercial products, for the most part.

Since you don't have info about the article you read, I can't evaluate it. I surmise that the author was European, writing for a European audience, or, if not, was misinformed (refer to the USDA published qualification of butter grades, and it's obvious that the premise that butter made from "stale cream" could be covered up with a light sprinkling of salt is a false one, as the sale of butter made from rancid cream is actually illegal in the US.)

I adore French butter. Could eat it by the spoon. Or melt it and mainline it! It's one of the first things I pick up when there. I devour it on a fresh baguette like it's going out of style. Of course, I'd prefer to use primo European butter for everything. But the way I bake, the cost would be prohibitive. It's incomparable for making a laminated dough. That said, I'm keenly aware of the virtues of French butter. But all the time? The hubs would pop an aneurysm when he saw the grocery bill! Plus, using American butter is an automatic assurance to limit my consumption. There is, indeed, a silver lining to every cloud!

As the French are so fond of saying, however, "Chacun à son goût!"
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:51 AM   #17
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I went and checked the two packages of salted butter that I have in the freezer. The butter from Aldi is marked "AA". The Kroger butter isn't marked with a USDA grade at all and I find that kind of odd/disturbing. Does that imply that it's an inferior grade? I've never noticed any off flavors in it. I think that Aldi's butter is more watery than other brands when I melt it in a pan to cook eggs. It would take a lot of Aldi butter to make browned butter because of all the water that would need to evaporate.
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:18 AM   #18
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Linda Sue, that's very odd about the Kroger's butter. It's doubtful that it would have off-flavors, or no one would buy is. It's probably just fine, but I look for the AA stamp.

As for the Aldi's butter, I know what you mean. I have bought it, too, and observed the liquid nature firsthand. The grade doesn't dictate anything about the water content in the finished butter. It only has to do with the sensory quality of the cream used to produce it.

Butter sold commercially in the US contains butterfat that ranges from 86%, all the way down to a low of 80%. Your premium butters will be on the higher side, and the cheaper ones have more liquid, which is the phenomenon of which you've just seen a rather striking visual demonstration.

As I noted in an earlier post, unsalted butter contains a minuscule amount more product, which is 0.05%. So switching from salted to unsalted will only help a little, not enough to make a discernible difference.

No way around it, though. To find a butter with the absolute minimum of water and maximum of product, buy a premium butter, unsalted. Like with so many other things, with butter you get what you pay for.

Hope that helps answer the question.
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:30 AM   #19
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Linda Sue, I just had a couple of ideas about the Kroger butter. It's possible that the stamp is on the inner parchment used to wrap each quarter. If not, I'd be really suspicious about it, and would pass on buying it, no matter what the price.

Additionally, it occurred to me that if it were grade AA, they wouldn't hesitate to trumpet that fact on the box. So it's a logical assumption that it's of a lower quality grade.

So for me, at least, if I had any near me (which I don't) Kroger would not be a place where I'd buy my butter.
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Old 08-17-2017, 12:21 PM   #20
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Cook's Country and the kitchen dot com have done blind taste tests on butter.
Lurpak (Danish import) came in first for CC and President Imported Salted came in first for the kitchen.

A common complaint among tasters was the tastelessness of many brands.
Seems European butters simply have more buttery flavor.

So depending on what your use for the butter is, make your choice.
If I'm splurging on crusty, artisanal bread, I want my cultured unsalted.
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Old 08-17-2017, 12:45 PM   #21
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Need to start looking for that butter..It sounds delicious.
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Old 08-17-2017, 04:12 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baricat View Post
Linda Sue, I just had a couple of ideas about the Kroger butter. It's possible that the stamp is on the inner parchment used to wrap each quarter. If not, I'd be really suspicious about it, and would pass on buying it, no matter what the price.

Additionally, it occurred to me that if it were grade AA, they wouldn't hesitate to trumpet that fact on the box. So it's a logical assumption that it's of a lower quality grade.

So for me, at least, if I had any near me (which I don't) Kroger would not be a place where I'd buy my butter.
Funny you should suggest looking at the inner wrapper because I just had the same idea. Be right back...Sure enough. It's marked Grade AA on the wrapper.
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